When parents separate they each retain their parental rights. A departing parent who is no longer caring for the children may believe that they have lost their Parental Responsibility. However, this is just a myth. Parental Responsibility only can end on the making of a court Order and not on the ending of a relationship or subsequent divorce.
This misconception can lead to some parents believing that they can unilaterally make decisions without consulting their ex-partner because he or she is out of the country for example. This can be a common problem within armed forces families. Parental Responsibility continues unless a Court orders otherwise. And a court would need some very good reasons for doing so.
This means any decision with regards to schooling, religion or medical treatment should be reached together. Similarly, both parents have a right to be able to access school records and medical information. This information cannot be restricted to a single parent.
It should also be noted that if one parent intends to take a child abroad out of the jurisdiction of England or Wales they must obtain the permission from the other parent.
If agreement cannot be reached on these matters parents can apply to the courts to make a decision on their behalf. Such applications are known as Specific Issue Orders. In dealing with such applications the court considers on balance what is in a child’s best interests.
Another issue is that not all parents have parental responsibility. Mothers and fathers automatically have parental responsibility if they are married. If not then mother has parental responsibility automatically and fathers by being named on the child’s birth certificate if the child was born on or after 1st December 2003. Parental responsibility can also be conferred by court order or by formal agreement.
In short a parent who works away should not be excluded from the decision making process and has this right protected by the law for the benefit of the child.
If you need advice and assistance please contact one of our offices listed below to arrange an appointment.
Aintree – 0151 526 9321
Formby – 01704872156
Heswall – 0151 342 6447
Huyton – 0151 489 6161
Kirkby – 0151 548 7370
Maghull – 0151 526 7131
West Kirby – 0151 625 9254
Woolton 0151 421 2400
Darren White is a family solicitor and a member of Resolution